Lytro started out as a small company trying to bring light field photography to the consumer market. The company soon attracted considerable investments and built two consumer cameras – the Lytro Light Field Camera and the Lytro Illum – which brought breakthrough features such as software refocus and synthetic aperture from lab-sized camera arrays to the hands of the end users. Then, however, the company made a major strategic turn, abandoned the consumer market, and realigned itself to focus (pun intended) on Virtual Reality solutions.
Earlier this week, Lytro announced a new product which takes the company into a new direction: The Lytro Immerge is a futuristic-looking sphere with five rings of light field cameras and sensors to capture the entire light field volume of a scene. The resulting video will be compatible with major virtual reality platforms and headsets such as the Oculus Rift, and allow viewers to look around anywhere from the Immerge’s fixed position, providing an immersive, 360 degree live-action experience.
After releasing two light field cameras for end users, Lytro seems to try branching out into other fields to enable broader application of their plenoptic technology: Back in November, Lytro announced the Lytro Development Kit, basically a way for interested companies to license the technology and explore light field applications on their own.
Now the company reportedly raised 50 million $ to shift toward Virtual Reality and video. Lytro’s “refocus” to these new areas entails a lay-off of 25 to 50 current positions – a sizeable chunk of their workforce of just 130 – so that new specialists from the fields of video and VR can be hired. Continue reading
A rather secretive startup from Hollywood, Florida, recently made headlines for raising a spectacular investment for their vision of the next generation of Virtual Reality. Big names like Google, Qualcomm Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and others have put together the sum of 540 million US-Dollars for a company called Magic Leap, but the public isn’t even sure what the company is working on.
The official press release reads: “Magic Leap is going beyond the current perception of mobile computing, augmented reality, and virtual reality. We are transcending all three, and will revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share and play.”
…and Magic Leap’s website doesn’t provide many details either.
The company is reportedly working on Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signals” (Digital Lightfield, in short), a “biomimetic” technology that “respects how we function naturally as humans”. What that means precisely, the company doesn’t explain. However, Technology Review has dug up some interesting patent applications by Magic Leap which may give us a glimpse into what convinced their investors: Continue reading
About a year ago, Nvidia presented a novel head-mounted display that is based on light field technology and offers both depth and refocus capability to the human eye. Their so-called Near-Eye Light Field Display was more a proof of concept, but it’s exciting new technology that solves a number of existing problems with stereoscopic virtual reality glasses.
Nvidia researcher Douglas Lanman recently gave a talk at Augmented World Expo (AWE2014), in which he explained the background and evolution of head-mounted displays and the history and design of Nvidia’s near-eye light field display prototypes: Continue reading